A young woman, Michelle Carter, was sentenced to jail after being convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy. Michelle had sent Conrad a series of text messages urging him to take his own life.
Initially Michelle had encouraged Conrad to get help for his personal problems. But over time Michelle began to get frustrated and impatient with him. It’s been speculated that she wanted to win the sympathy and attention that comes with being a grieving girlfriend.
Without dwelling further on this tragedy, here are two questions:
First, how would you feel about Michelle Carter if you were Conrad Roy’s parents? You raise your son. Like many kids, he hits some rough spots in high school. He withdraws socially. You can’t begin to imagine when he’s upstairs texting in his room that his girlfriend is encouraging your son to take his own life. How would you feel about Michelle Carter if you were Conrad Roy’s parents?
Now a second question: How would you feel about Michelle Carter if you were Michelle Carter’s parents? You are, of course, beyond horrified to learn that your daughter encouraged another family’s son to commit suicide. You can’t even bear the thought of facing his family.
After the first humans defected they experienced for the first time what God Himself experienced: parenthood.
But what are your feelings toward your own daughter, Michelle, a 17-year-old you’ve raised from diapers to onesies to pajamas to prom dresses? Do you still love her with all your heart? Would you do absolutely anything to make all this pain go away?
We don’t know exactly what it means that we were made in God’s image. But it must at least mean this: We cannot stop loving our children; we are incapable of it. God also cannot stop loving His children. He also is incapable of it.
After the first humans defected, they experienced for the first time what God Himself experienced: parenthood. For the next 900 years our first parents must have watched in horror as their children and grandchildren fell deeper and deeper into sin. Yet through it all they felt the same thing God did: unshakable love for their children.
When Cain began thinking about killing his own brother, Abel, God spoke these words to Cain: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin [or a sin offering] is crouching at your door” (Gen. 4:7).
Some scholars believe that God is warning Cain that sin is crouching at his door, like a ferocious animal. Other scholars, however, suggest a different animal lying at his door: a sacrificial lamb. Indeed, the Hebrew word chatta’t can mean “sin offering” (see Lev. 4:25), referring to an atoning sacrifice. And the Hebrew wordrobets, translated “crouches” or “lies,” can be associated with pasturing a herd or flock (see Gen. 29:2).
God might actually have been telling Cain: “Do what is right, Cain. But if you don’t do what is right, it’s not over for you. A sin offering is lying at your door. Let yourself be covered by the blood of the Lamb.” Was this God’s message of race from the very beginning . . . , from a heavenly Father unable to stop loving His children? Just like His Son.
Andy Nash ([email protected]) is a pastor and author who leads study tours to Israel.